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NHS (U.K.) 

Gene editing technique could prevent inherited diseases

"Researchers in the US have raised hopes for a simple genetic therapy that could prevent devastating diseases being passed on from mothers to their children," The Guardian reports.The diseases in question are known as mitochondrial diseases, where mutations occur in mitochondria: a small section of DNA that is passed directly from mother to child.Some children born with mitochondrial disea

Air pollution linked to silent strokes

"Adults who live in towns and cities suffer ageing of the brain and increased risk of dementia and [silent] strokes because of air pollution," The Daily Telegraph reports. A "silent stroke" (technically known as a covert brain infarct) are small areas of damage caused by lack of oxygen to the brain tissue, but are not severe enough to cause obvious symptoms. They may be a sign of blood vessel

New asthma treatment within five years, researchers hope

"Asthma cure could be in reach," The Independent reports. Researchers have discovered that protein molecules called calcium-sensing receptors play a pivotal role in asthma. Drugs known to block these proteins already exist.In asthma, the immune system mistakes harmless substances, such as pollen, as a threat. White blood cells and inflammatory proteins then collect in the airways. The inflamm

A magnet for mosquitoes? Blame your genes

"Mosquitoes 'lured by body odour genes','' BBC News reports. Researchers tested a series of non-identical and identical twins, and found identical twins had similar levels of attractiveness to mosquitoes. Researchers have long known that some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others, and some think this is to do with body odour. Body odour is, in part, inherited through our gen

Athlete’s foot cream could also treat multiple sclerosis

"Two common drugs – one used for treating athlete's foot and another for alleviating eczema – may be useful therapies for multiple sclerosis," BBC News reports. The drugs have shown promise in lab and animal studies. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition caused by damage to myelin. Myelin is a protein that acts as a protective layer to individual nerve fibres. In this study r

Coffee could make breast cancer drug tamoxifen more effective

"A cancer-killing cocktail of the hormone drug tamoxifen and two coffees every day was found to reduce the risk of [breast cancer] tumours returning," the Mail Online reports. The same study also found evidence that caffeine slowed the cancer's growth. The study looked at coffee consumption among 1,090 women with breast cancer, about half of whom were treated with tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a

Mindfulness 'as good as drugs for preventing depression relapse'

"Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may be as good as pills at stopping people relapsing after recovering from major bouts of depression," The Guardian reports.Researchers wanted to see if a type of therapy known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) could be an effective alternative treatment to antidepressants for people with major depression at high risk of relapse. MBCT combin

Mistreatment of extreme morning sickness 'leading to abortions'

"Extreme morning sickness causes 1k abortions a year, study finds," The Daily Telegraph reports. The report states that poor treatment of some cases of extreme morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) is leading some women to terminate their pregnancy, despite there being safe and effective treatments available. While morning sickness can be unpleasant, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) can be ex

Why you should drink (water) before you drive

"Not drinking enough water has same effect as drink driving," The Daily Telegraph reports. A small study found participants made more mistakes on a driving simulator task when they were mildly dehydrated than when they had plenty of fluids. This was a small trial of 12 men, studying the effect of mild dehydration on performance during a driving task. The men had a day of being hydrated or flu

There are six different types of obesity, study argues

"Researchers have identified six 'types' of obese person," The Independent reports. It's argued that each type would benefit from a targeted treatment programme for obesity, rather than a "one-size-fits-all" approach. This study looked at data from more than 4,000 obese adults taking part in the Yorkshire Health Study. It aimed to see whether it was possible to categorise obese individuals ac

Study doesn't prove e-cigs make quitting smoking harder

"E-cigs don’t help smokers quit fags – in fact they make it harder to stop," the Daily Mirror reports, apparently turning on its head the common view that using e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking conventional cigarettes.The Mirror’s report – echoed in the Daily Mail – was based on surveys of American smokers’ habits and intentions to quit. The study found that people who had ever used e-c

Discovery could 'boost immune system's cancer fighting ability'

The media is awash with news of a breakthrough that is "turbocharging the immune system to kill all cancers" (The Daily Telegraph) and a "game-changing new way to fight cancer" (The Independent).Both of these vivid headlines are debatable – the first because the technique has only been looked at in one type of cancer, and the second because it has only been examined in lab mice.Researchers

Does happiness have a smell and is it contagious?

"Humans can smell when other people are happy, researchers discover," The Independent reports; somewhat over-enthusiastically. In a new study, Dutch researchers investigated where happiness could be "spread" to others, via body odours, through a process known as "chemosignalling".Nine men provided sweat specimens during three sessions that aimed to make them feel happy, fearful or neutral.

Middle age 'starts at 60' claims media

“Middle age begins at 60, say researchers,” The Times reports. A new population modelling study estimates that due to increased lifespan, what was once regarded as elderly should be seen as middle-aged, and this trend will continue into the future.Traditionally, medical professionals, particularly epidemiologists, regarded 65 as the age at which somebody becomes elderly. This was based on the

DNA changes in sperm may help explain autism

"DNA changes could explain why autism runs in families, according to study," The Independent reports. Research suggests a set of changes in a father's DNA – known as methylation – is linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their offspring.Methylation is a chemical process that can influence the effects of genes on the body (gene expression), essentially turning off certain genes. This pro

Paracetamol may blunt feelings of pleasure as well as pain

"Paracetamol may dull emotions as well as physical pain, new study shows'," The Guardian reports.The story comes from research testing whether over-the-counter painkiller paracetamol can blunt not just the feeling of pain, but also emotions. Half the study’s 80 participants were given a normal dose of paracetamol, while the other half took a placebo pill. They were then asked to view photo

No proof that bad relationships raise blood pressure

"If you have ever blamed your partner for making your blood boil, a new study could be the evidence you need to prove it's true," Mail Online reports. But the association between stress and blood pressure is much less clear-cut than the Mail suggests. The study involved 1,356 older married couples in the US. They completed two sets of assessments four years apart. The assessments asked questi

Breath test shows promise in diagnosing stomach cancer

"A simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer," BBC News reports. The test is designed to detect a distinctive pattern of chemicals associated with stomach cancer.The study involved 484 people with a known diagnosis – 99 who had established stomach cancer and others who had different stages of pre-cancer. Pre-cancer

Can a facelift make you more likeable?

"Having plastic surgery can make you more likeable," the Mail Online reports. It says cosmetic facial surgery not only makes you look younger, but could also improve what people think of your character. As the Mail Online reports, women who received surgery "were rated as more attractive, feminine, and trustworthy".This headline is based on a study carried out by plastic surgeons, which asked

How dogs could sniff out prostate cancer

"Dogs trained to detect prostate cancer with more than 90% accuracy," The Guardian reports. Two trained bomb-sniffing dogs also proved remarkably successful in detecting compounds associated with prostate cancer in urine samples. This headline is based on research that trained two explosive-detection sniffer dogs to identify the urine samples of men with prostate cancer. They then tested the

Can plucking hairs stimulate new hair growth?

"Plucking hairs 'can make more grow'," BBC News reports, while the Daily Mail went as far as saying scientists have found "a cure for baldness". But before you all reach for your tweezers, this discovery was made in mice, not humans.The study that prompted the headlines involved looking at hair regeneration in mice. The results showed hair regeneration depended on the density at which hairs w

Middle-age spread 'seems to reduce dementia risk'

"Being overweight 'reduces dementia risk'," BBC News reports. The story comes from a cohort study of nearly 2 million UK adults aged over 40. It showed that being overweight or obese was linked to a lower risk of dementia up to 20 years later, compared with people who were a healthy weight. Underweight people were at a higher risk of dementia.This result is surprising as it contradicts the cu

'Marathon men' make better sexual partners, media claims

"Marathon runners are the best in bed," is the spurious claim in Metro. The headline is based on a study that only looked at long-distance runners’ finger ratios – said to be a marker for high testosterone levels – not reported partner sexual satisfaction (or as other sources report, high sperm counts and "reproductive fitness").The study is based on the concept of what is known as 2D:4D r

Short people may have an increased risk of heart disease

"Shorter people at greater risk of heart disease, new research finds," reports The Guardian.It reports that a study of nearly 200,000 people has found that for every 2.5 inches (6.35cm) less in height, there is a 13.5% increased risk of coronary heart disease or CHD (also known as coronary artery disease). This means that someone who is 5ft (1.52m) would have a 32% increased risk of CHD co

No such thing as baby brain, study argues

"'Baby brain' is a stereotype and all in the mind, the Mail Online reports. The headline is prompted by a US study that aimed to see if "baby brain" (aka "mumnesia") – alleged memory lapses and problems with concentration during pregnancy – is a real phenomenon or just a myth.The study recruited 21 women in the third trimester of pregnancy. A second group of 21 women who had never been pr

Do diet soft drinks actually make you gain weight?

"Is Diet Coke making you fat? People who drink at least one can a day have larger waist measurements," the Mail Online reports. A US study found an association between the daily consumption of diet fizzy drinks and expanded waist size. This study included a group of older adults aged 65 or over from San Antonio, Texas. Researchers asked participants about their consumption of diet soft drinks

Superbug 'could kill 80,000 people' experts warn

"Superflu pandemic is biggest danger to UK apart from a terrorist attack – and could kill 80,000 people," is the warning in The Independent. A briefing produced by experts outlines how antibiotic resistance could pose a significant threat (PDF, 440kb) to public health."Up to 80,000 people in Britain could die in a single outbreak of an infection due to a new generation of superbugs," reports

Vigorous exercise 'may help prevent early death'

"Short bursts of vigorous exercise helps prevent early death," The Independent reports after an Australian study found vigorous exercise, such as jogging, reduced the risk of premature death.The study involved adults aged 45 to 75 years old followed up over 6.5 years. Those who did more vigorous activity (as part of their general total moderate to vigorous activity levels) were less likely to

Sedentary lifestyle – not watching TV – may up diabetes risk

“Experts claim being a couch potato can increase the risk of developing diabetes,” the Daily Express reports.A study of people at high risk of diabetes produced the sobering result that each hour of time spent watching TV increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 2.1% (after being overweight was taken into account).The study originally compared two interventions aimed at reducing the risk o

New Down’s syndrome test more accurate than current screening

“Blood test for Down’s syndrome 'gives better results'," reports BBC News today. The test, which is based on spotting fragments of "rogue DNA", achieved impressive results in a series of trials.A study of over 15,000 women found that the new blood test more accurately identifies pregnancies with Down's syndrome than the test currently used.Down's syndrome is caused by having an extra chrom


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